After relocating the majority of the Republic National Convention from Charlotte to Jacksonville last month, President Donald Trump called off the Florida portion of the events due to health risks from the coronavirus.
What We Know:
- In June, Trump decided to move the main RNC events to Jacksonville after weeks-long disagreements with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper about the coronavirus safety precautions. Cooper announced that attendees would be required to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines, something that Trump didn’t want present at the convention.
- In a surprising announcement on Thursday, Trump announced there would be no Florida component of the convention as coronavirus cases continue to spike across that state. “I looked at my team and I said the timing for this event is not right. It’s just not right with what’s been happening,” Trump said during a briefing. “They said ‘Sir, we can make this work very easily.’ … I said there’s nothing more important in our country than keeping our people safe, whether it’s from the China virus or the radical left mob.”
- Delegates to the convention will still meet at the original location in Charlotte to hold small, formal business meetings as planned, but Trump’s keynote Jacksonville speech will no longer take place. As for the rest of the events that were expected during the convention, Trump said the party is still working to figure out how to make those possible. “We’ll have a very nice something. We’ll figure it out. It’ll be online in some form. Maybe it’ll be something even a little bit different. We have time.”
- Trump said that Florida officials had not asked him to cancel the convention. A joint statement by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams thanked Trump for calling it off. “We appreciate President Donald Trump considering our public health and safety concerns in making this incredibly difficult decision. As always, in Jacksonville, public safety is our number one priority. President Trump has once again reaffirmed his commitment to the safety of Jacksonville, Florida, and the people of the United States of America.”
- The Jacksonville convention host committee had about $6 million in various accounts with some of that money already spent and it also had $20 million in commitments, according to two officials involved in the fund-raising. On Thursday, they were still assessing whether donors would be able to get their money back but assumed they would not be able to do so in full.
- The decision comes as Florida has become the most recent global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. As of Thursday, the state had recorded more than 390,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than 10,000 in the last 24 hours, and over 5,500 deaths.
The Democratic party had already canceled most of their August convention. Instead, it will consist largely of virtual events, with a small number of people appearing in person in their host city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.